On the hunt for the best Iceland travel tips for visiting the country on a budget? We have got you covered! While Iceland can be incredibly expensive, there are ways to see this beautiful and extreme country without breaking the bank. While there are a lot of generic travel tips for Iceland, we wanted to narrow them down if you are specifically looking to visit Iceland on a budget. These money saving tips have the potential to save you hundreds, and possibly thousands, of dollars, depending on how closely you follow them.
We have traveled to Iceland multiple times and always love sharing our Iceland travel tips with others. Thousands have successfully visited Iceland on a budget by following our tips and tricks and we want to help you do the same and make your trip of going to Iceland come true! Our Iceland travel tips will cover a variety of ways to see the country without breaking the bank. Planning a trip to Iceland doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg if you do it correctly!
10 Budget Iceland Travel Tips For Your First Visit
#1. Renting A 2×2 Car Is One Of The Best Budget Travel Tips For Iceland
No matter what time of year you are driving in Iceland, you can get away with renting a 2×2 vehicle. Even if you are here looking for Iceland travel tips for winter, you can get away with a two-wheel drive car. This is one of our favorite Iceland travel tips because it is a common misconception when traveling to Iceland is that you need a 4×4 vehicle and that is the only way to get around, especially in winter. This is simply untrue! A 4×4 vehicle can cost double or triple what renting a 2×2 costs, and unless you plan to go into the Icelandic highlands, it is an unnecessary cost.
Whether you are visiting in winter or summer, this Iceland travel tip can apply to you because roads are quite good and well maintained. Whether you are staying in Reykjavik, driving the Golden Circle, or heading out along the Ring Road, a 2×2 will suffice. Driving off-road in Iceland is illegal anyway and all of the best things to see in Iceland are right off the main road. This is one of our favorite travel tips for Iceland to save hundreds of dollars right from the start of your trip.
#2. Avoid Going Out To Eat At All Costs
If you really want to shave hundreds of dollars off the cost of your trip, this is one of our most important Iceland travel tips for saving money. Going out to dinner in Iceland cost prohibitively expensive. We have shared this Iceland travel tip with many people and some didn’t listen and complained about the tons of money they threw away on cheap Icelandic food. A single burger and fries can run upwards of $50 per person and an Icelandic gas station hot dog can run $14 USD. Do the math and you will see that these expenses add up quickly, especially if you are visiting Iceland for more than a few days.
If you are looking to save money, one of the best Iceland travel tips is to go to grocery stores in Iceland. We have this handy guide detailing all you need to know about supermarkets in Iceland. Surprisingly, food at grocery stores in Iceland really isn’t all that expensive which is why we like to recommend this as one of our money-saving Iceland travel tips. Buy staples from the grocery store and then cook at your accommodation. It is usually pretty cold in Iceland, so you can even leave perishables outside, especially if you are traveling in winter. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and canned soups are a good idea.
Unless you have a lot of money to burn, Iceland isn’t the place to go for wining and dining. We have gone to Iceland multiple times and only ate out at a noodle shop in Reykjavik once because we had no other option [and it was $10 per person]. One of our most valuable Iceland travel tips is to get into the mindset that Iceland is about experiencing the landscape, not the food! Unless, of course, you budget hundreds of dollars per person and you really want to eat the food. Otherwise, grocery stores in Iceland are your friend!
#3. Visiting Iceland During The Winter Or Off-Season Is One Of Our Favorite Iceland Travel Tips
We have talked about saving hundreds, but if you are looking to save thousands of dollars on your entire Iceland trip cost, plan that trip during the winter or visit during the off-season. If you follow all of our other Iceland travel tips listed here and go to Iceland during the low-season, you will be saving yourself thousands of dollars. The off-season is the best time to go to Iceland for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest is the amount of money you will save.
When asked by friends and family for travel tips for Iceland, we always recommend going during the shoulder season or visiting in winter. Even delaying your trip to Iceland from June or July and going in April or September will save you a boatload of cash. All of your favorite things to see such as the waterfalls in Iceland or all the cute animals in Iceland will still be there, no matter what time of year you visit! Plus, if you hate snow, these months will allow you to experience all the beauty Iceland has to offer without the snow and without spending thousands during the summer. If all of these reasons weren’t enough, traveling during the low season means less competing with other tourists at sightseeing hotspots and more availability for hotels!
#4. Camping In Iceland Is A Surefire Way To Save
Camping in Iceland isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you are more adventurous, then these Iceland travel tips are for you! We put together this guide for camping in Iceland and camping is the cheapest way to sleep during your time in Iceland. If you choose to tent camp in Iceland, we recommend going during the warmer months and not during the winter. The elements in Iceland are quite extreme so sleeping outdoors in the winter is never recommended.
That being said, renting a campervan is one of the travel tips for Iceland many people recommend, especially if you want to camp in winter. Campervans can run from $80-$150 per day and you are able to pack in multiple people and split the cost. They protect you from the elements and allow you to camp all over the island. Tent camping in Iceland costs the least, especially if you bring all of your own gear, but renting a campervan and splitting the cost among friends, will allow you to save big too.
If you are planning on camping in Iceland, make sure to buy food from the grocery store and cook on a camp stove or on the back of your camper van. Not only will you save on accommodations, but you will save on gas too! These travel tips for Iceland aren’t for everyone, but if you love camping and being in the heart of nature, there is no better way to see the island on a budget!
#5. Choose An Airbnb Over A Hotel Or Hostel If Camping Isn’t For You
If camping isn’t for you [and we don’t blame you!], make sure to choose an Airbnb over a hotel or hostel. Airbnbs in Iceland are the perfect way to see the country and interact with the locals. Staying at an Airbnb in Iceland is one of the best Iceland travel tips for going on a budget because Airbnb allows you to save money by staying in someone else’s home. For example, hostels in Iceland may cost $50 per person where you share a room with 6-12 other guests. On the other hand, a room at an Airbnb in Iceland cost us $50 and we got our own private room and only shared with the owner and one other guest. Split between two people, that is just $25 per person, per night, instead of $100 per night!
Hotels in Iceland are quite pricey, so if you are looking for travel tips for Iceland on a budget, Airbnb is the way to go. Even if you want to spend more money on a nicer Airbnb, you can rent an entire home for $80-$100 a night. Unlike a hotel, an entire home Airbnb will give you access to a full kitchen where you can cook all meals, saving you even more money. Staying at a hotel forces you to go out to eat for every meal which will tack on hundreds of extra dollars to your Iceland trip cost. This Iceland travel tip will easily save you hundreds of dollars!
Use our code to get a free $40 off your Airbnb in Iceland! Click here to claim!
#6.You Don’t Need To Bring Cash Or Withdraw Money
In all of our times traveling to Iceland, we have never withdrawn any money or even held a single Icelandic Krona. Your credit or debit card will work just fine pretty much everywhere during your trip. This is one of those Iceland travel tips that will end up saving you money but that you probably wouldn’t even consider! If you withdraw money or change money at the airport, you will be paying a pricey conversion fee to the company or an ATM fee at your bank. Since pretty much everywhere in Iceland accepts credit and debit cards, save yourself some money [heavens knows you will need it!] and skip withdrawing cash.
That being said, if you need to get gas in Iceland, you will need a pin if you hope to pay at the pump. This means that your zip code on a credit card will not work and you will have to use your debit card. If you arrive in Iceland and you do not have a debit card and your credit card won’t work at the pump, simply go inside and the attendant will help you with no issues. If this is the case, make sure to fill up early and often so you don’t get stranded at a gas station after the shop has closed with no way to check out.
#7. Avoid Driving The Entire Ring Road For A Huge Money-Saving Iceland Travel Tip
This may be one of our more controversial Iceland travel tips, but hear us out! If you are doing a road trip in Iceland we recommend skipping driving the entire Ring Road to save money. We created this 5 Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary that focuses on the south and eastern parts of Iceland and hits many memorable locations from waterfalls and black sand beaches to glacier lagoons and geysers.
There is no nice way to say it, but gas in Iceland is expensive as all get out and there is travel tip for Iceland to save money on it. You are stuck paying gas prices if you hope to drive. A way to save money on gas is to simply drive less. Filling up a gas tank on a compact economy car costs us $80, if that gives you any indication of the gas prices [and another reason why renting a 2×2 is one of our Iceland travel tips!] There are so many things to see and do in Iceland that you don’t have to drive the whole Ring Road to feel like you saw and enjoyed all that Iceland has to offer! If you are looking to save, simply driving less is an easy way to save you hundreds of dollars.
#8. Fly A Budget Airline And Don’t Pay For “Extras”
If you are looking Iceland travel tips that will help you save big, this one is for you! In addition to visiting Iceland during the off-season or winter, make sure to fly a budget airline, such as WOW air. We have flown WOW air upwards of 8 times and haven’t had a single problem. This is a huge travel tip for Iceland if you are looking to save money! Keep an eye out because WOW air often runs specials for $99 flights to Iceland. This price truly cannot be beaten by any other carriers!
One of our money-saving Iceland travel tips for flying on a budget airline is to bring your own food and snacks on the plane and to check your bag instead of carrying it on. Believe it or not, a checked bag is often cheaper than a carry-on! Make sure to stay under the size and weight limits so you don’t get charged extra. In addition, be sure to carefully consider whether or not you really need to pay extra for a seat selection. Finally, make sure to download movies on your personal device so you don’t have to pay extra for the in-flight ipads WOW air gives out [for a fee.]
#9. If Possible, Travel To Iceland With A Group Of Friends So You Can Split The Cost
If you are looking to save money, consider traveling to Iceland with a group of friends or family members so you can all split the cost. Although solo travel to Iceland is completely safe and feasible, you are left shouldering the cost of the entire trip. If you are a solo traveler reading this, we still encourage you to go to Iceland, but be aware you will have to pay a bit more than those traveling in a group. This is one of those travel tips for Iceland that doesn’t apply to everyone but is nice to consider if it applies to you.
Visiting Iceland with a group of friends or family means that you will have people to split the cost of the car rental, gas, grocery bill, accommodations and more. We recommend heading to Iceland with an even amount of people in your group as an uneven amount means one extra room or an extra car that you need to rent. Traveling in a group of two or four is a great Iceland travel tip for saving money on many aspects of your trip to the island.
#10. Pack A Reusable Water Bottle And Drink From The Tap
One of our favorite Iceland travel tips is to pack a reusable filtered water bottle and drink from the tap! Iceland is home to some of the cleanest and most pristine water in the world. That being said, their hot and warm water is heated by natural sulfur springs under the earth so when filling up your water bottle, ensure that the tap is turned all the way to the cold side so you don’t drink the sulphuric water. Although it is totally okay for showering and swimming, it is not advised to drink it!
Save money in Iceland by not buying bottled water or drinks at the grocery store or gas station, and instead pack your own reusable water bottle. Since everyone reacts to water differently, no matter how pristine, we always recommend buying a water bottle with a filter to ensure all the pathogens are filtered out. We love our Bobble Water Bottle and it has saved us from getting sick when traveling on many occasions.
Best Time Of Year To Visit Iceland
If you are reading these Iceland travel tips trying to figure out the best time of year to visit Iceland, you are not alone! Figuring out when to visit Iceland truly depends on what you are looking to do, there really is no wrong answer! If you are dreaming of seeing Iceland green and experiencing the midnight sun, then you must travel during the summer time. This is the only time of year Iceland is green and the best time to go if you want 24/hour daylight.
On the other hand, if seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, you will have to visit Iceland in winter! The long dark days of winter are your best bet for catching the elusive Northern Lights! One of our secret Iceland travel tips is that you can visit during the shoulder season and still see the Northern Lights! If you don’t want to travel in the dead of winter but still want to see the Northern Lights, you can visit in September and October and still have a chance! All you have to do is make sure that it gets dark in Iceland for a shot of seeing the lights! Either way, there truly is no bad time to visit Iceland, it just depends on what you are looking for! Finally, if you are wanting to save money, our Iceland travel tip is to visit during the winter or off-season.
How To Get Around Iceland
When people ask us about our Iceland travel tips, one of their most common questions is if they should rent a car and if so, does it have to be a 4×4. We always recommend renting a car in Iceland if your budget allows because it gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Driving in Iceland is easy and safe, even in winter, and you don’t need to rent a 4×4 if you don’t want to or are looking to visit Iceland on a budget.
That being said, not everyone wants to drive and some people would prefer someone else to do all the hard work. That is okay too! There are many incredible tours in Iceland that are actually quite affordable considering the price of gas in Iceland. You can take fantastic day tours from Reykjavik that take you to the south coast, Golden Circle, and more. If you don’t want to deal with driving or planning an itinerary, a tour is a great way to get around Iceland.
Finally, if you are really looking to save money, you could consider hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is a serious thing in Iceland and we see tons of people doing it to get around the island. We have never hitchhiked in Iceland so we don’t have any specific Iceland travel tips relating to it, we can only say that it is more popular and safe than you may think!
Safety Travel Tips For Iceland
Traveling to Iceland is incredible, but there are some Iceland travel tips you must know in order to stay safe in the country! First off, never turn your back on the ocean and never walk close to the shore, especially at the Black Sand Beach by Vik. There are deadly “sneaker waves” that sneak up and kill multiple people a year by catching them by surprise and dragging them into the ocean. Be aware and respectful of nature.
Next, always make sure you have enough gas when driving in Iceland. As soon as your gas tank gets to half, fill it up at the next possible gas station. We haven’t followed our own advice and have had to turn back and go get gas which ruined our entire day because then the sun set. You do not want to be in the middle of nowhere in Iceland and run out of gas with no phone service as you try and call for help. Getting gas early and often is one of our most useful Iceland travel tips and we highly recommend you heed it if you plan on driving in Iceland!
Finally, think again if you are going to visit the Icelandic highlands or are going somewhere where you need to drive your car through a river. As soon as you put your car in the water, your insurance will no longer cover it. That means if the engine floods or you get swept down the river, you will have to pay for the entire thing yourself! Travelers to Iceland often miscalculate the depth of rivers and there are multiple yearly deaths from people getting swept away in their cars down the river. We aren’t telling you these Iceland travel tips to scare you, but simply so you can be prepared and have a wonderful and safe trip to one of our favorite countries!
Packing Tips For Iceland
One of your best Iceland travel tips for packing is to spend a little money now so you will be thankful later! Iceland is a serious country and you will want to be prepared. We have written four articles about packing for Iceland including the actual outfits we have worn on multiple trips to Iceland. We will link them below for your ease. If you are trying to save money for your trip to Iceland, consider going to your local thrift store or second hand shop, or asking around from friends if they have clothing you can borrow. If you live in the USA or Canada, Walmart has some affordable rain boots that we have brought to Iceland in the past.
Our number one Iceland travel tip for packing is to wear warm, waterproof, and windproof clothing. If your coat or pants are not waterproof, you will be soaked and sorry! Same goes with your shoes! You can even bring a pair of simple $20 rain boots with a pair of wool socks and be set to go during your trip to Iceland! We highly recommend investing in some waterproof pants and a waterproof jacket as well. You don’t have to spend a ton of money and even rain boots can make a huge difference between being soaked and being comfortable during your trip to Iceland!
Additional Iceland Travel Planning Resources
- If you are looking for more information about when to go to Iceland, check out our detailed guide on the best time to go to Iceland and which shows the pros and cons of every season. This will help you choose what works best for you!
- Considering staying in Airbnbs during your trip to Iceland? We put together The Beginner’s Guide To Airbnb to help you through your trip as well as a list of our favorite Airbnbs all around the Ring Road! Staying in Airbnbs is one of our favorite budget Iceland travel tips!
- Looking for even more budget Iceland travel tips? Here are our 7 Tips For Visiting Iceland On A Budget as well as 5 More Things You Shouldn’t Forget To Budget For In Iceland so you can save the most amount of money possible!
- If you have always wanted to camp, we put together the First-timers Guide To Camping In Iceland with all sorts of helpful tricks and tips including a detailed packing list. This is a great way to see Iceland on a budget without shelling out a ton of money!
- Planning on an Iceland road trip or thinking about driving during trip to Iceland? Check out our 7 Tips For Driving In Iceland as well as 5 things to know about Gas Stations in Iceland!
- Planning your Iceland itinerary during the winter? Here are 5 Things To Know Before Visiting Iceland In Winter to make sure you are on the right track to enjoy your trip as well as 30 Bucket List Things To Do In Iceland In Winter! Both of these articles include winter-specific Iceland travel tips to help you start planning!
- Check out our super popular 5 Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary to start planning your getaway!
- Our 3 Days In Iceland Itinerary can be completed any time of year!
By following these budget Iceland travel tips you have the potential to save hundreds, and possibly thousands of dollars on the cost of your trip, depending on how long you stay in Iceland. When you add up the cost you are saving on accommodations by staying in an Airbnb or camping, the cost difference of going during the off-season, the money you save on gas by not driving the whole ring road, the amount you save by splitting with friends, the cost of flying on WOW air and more, you find yourself saving a whole ton of money on going to Iceland!
We are sharing these travel tips for Iceland with you because it is our passion to help people like you make their dream of going to Iceland without breaking the bank a reality! Iceland is expensive and it is fantastic all at the same time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save a ton of money to make it slightly less expensive than it could have been! If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment below and we will be happy to answer your questions!
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